Fast start puts Mahomes on record pace

Published 2:03 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

Patrick Mahomes is already chasing Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Mahomes tossed six touchdown passes at Pittsburgh after throwing four in the opener at the Chargers. His 10 TDs are the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his team’s first two games of a season. Manning has the most through three games with 12 in 2013 for Denver and Brady is second with 11 in 2011.

Mahomes, who turned 23 Monday, is the youngest quarterback with at least six TD passes in a single game. He also had more TDs than incomplete passes in that game.

The second-year pro makes his first career start at home when the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) host San Francisco on Sunday.

Here’s a look inside more numbers going into Week 3:

FITZ-MAGIC: Ryan Fitzpatrick is only the third quarterback to have 400 yards passing and four TDs in consecutive games, joining Hall of Famer Dan Marino (1984) and Billy Volek (2004). No one has done it three straight games.

Fitzpatrick leads the surprising Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) against Pittsburgh (0-1-1) on Monday night.

STILL SLINGIN’: Drew Brees needs only 14 completions to break Hall of Famer Brett Favre’s career record for most complete passes (6,300). Brees also has tied Manning with two consecutive games of at least 30 pass attempts and 80 percent completions.

JERRY HAS COMPANY: DeSean Jackson’s 75-yard touchdown catch against the Eagles, his former team, gave him 23 career TDs of at least 60 yards, tying him Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for most scores from that distance.

EVERYBODY SCORES: The 174 touchdowns scored through Week 2 are the most at this point in NFL history. The 1,506 points scored rank second all-time through Week 2. There were 1,556 in 2012.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: Already 21 games have been decided by one score, third-most in league history through Week 2. That equals 66 percent of games played. Four more games have been within 8 points in the fourth quarter.

COMEBACKS: Nine teams have come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter. The Packers, who overcame a 20-3 fourth-quarter deficit in a win over Chicago in Week 1, wasted a 20-7 lead after three quarters in a 29-29 tie with Minnesota.

RECORD PACE: Michael Thomas has 28 receptions through two games for New Orleans and is on pace to catch 224 passes, which would shatter Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143.

STILL WINLESS: Four of the NFL’s seven new coaches this season are 0-2, including Oakland’s Jon Gruden. Giants coach Pat Shurmur, Detroit’s Matt Patricia and Arizona’s Steve Wilks are also 0-2. Patricia faces former boss Bill Belichick when the Lions host the Patriots on Sunday night.

THE PERCENTAGES: Seven teams are 2-0 — Bengals, Broncos, Jaguars, Chiefs, Dolphins, Rams, Buccaneers. Since the current playoff format began in 1990, 62.3 percent (142-228) of teams that opened 2-0 made the playoffs.

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The chorus of “The Storm Is Over” by gospel singer Kirk Franklin played as Antonio Brown approached his locker on Thursday, an intentionally apt choice by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker/DJ Vince Williams to address the latest bit of drama surrounding his superstar teammate.

Brown heard the song and laughed. Then the All-Pro wide receiver stepped in front of his stall and turned to face the cameras. The music stopped. The smile faded. In its place? A mix of frustration, defiance and — he insists — remorse.

Yes, he’s upset the Steelers are winless through two games. Yes, he probably shouldn’t have responded to criticism on social media from a former team employee by suggesting the team trade him if it wants to find out how productive he can be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

No, he doesn’t actually want to get out of Pittsburgh. No, he doesn’t have an issue with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. And as for his demeanor during a 42-37 loss to Kansas City last Sunday? Sorry, but he’s never going to apologize for letting his emotions bubble over when things aren’t going well.

“We haven’t won a game yet,” Brown said. “For me, as a Steeler, that’s unacceptable. I’m not on the sideline begging for the ball, or making statements like you guys make. I’m pissed off. We’re losing. We suck.”

Pittsburgh (0-1-1) is off to its worst start in five years heading into Monday night’s visit to Tampa Bay. That’s the problem, Brown insisted. His visible anger — he was caught slouching off the field following a late touchdown drive by Roethlisberger against the Chiefs and shouting at Fichtner on the sideline — is a direct result of the team’s record. And that’s all.

“Our business is winning,” Brown said. “We’re not winning. And when we don’t win, I’m pissed off because I take it serious. A lot of time goes into this. A lot of hard work and effort.”

Brown finished with nine receptions for 67 yards and is tied for the team lead with 18 catches through two games. He’s on pace for another statistically remarkable season. Yet the six-time Pro Bowler stressed he is far less concerned about his numbers than helping the Steelers get it together.

“I’m in the spotlight so you guys going to always put me under the microscope, but I’m a (passionate) individual,” Brown said. “I can’t fake the way I feel. I can’t hide the way I feel. If it wasn’t important to me, I’d just say it don’t matter. But I’m not that type of guy who’s just around here cashing checks and don’t care. This means something to me.”

An approach his teammates and coaches understand, which is why Fichtner wasn’t bothered when cameras caught Brown shouting in Fichtner’s direction on the sideline late in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs.

“I’ve known AB a long time and to be honest, I didn’t think about it like (people would think we were arguing) until later,” Fichtner said. “But I want him to be passionate and I want his communication.”

Brown, however, isn’t always in the mood to share his thoughts. When Pittsburgh’s late rally fell short, Brown skipped out of the postgame locker room before the media entered. He then missed mandatory meetings on Monday for what he described as personal reasons. He said he informed coach Mike Tomlin that he wouldn’t be into work, and the two had what Tomlin called a lengthy meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

While Brown didn’t make it to the team facility on Monday, he did find time to tweet “trade me lets find out” after a former Steelers employee suggested Brown should be thankful he has the chance to play with Roethlisberger. No one took Brown’s post seriously, particularly not Brown.

Still, he understands taking to social media to vent might not be the best course of action going forward.

“Obviously it was a stupid remark online (by me),” Brown said. “I’ve just got to stay away from online with the distractions and letting people getting me out of my character.”

The Steelers disciplined Brown for undisclosed reasons, but Brown indicated he will jog onto the field with the rest of the starters in Tampa Bay. He’ll also try to stop adding to a steady stream of off-the-field issues that have consistently popped up for the two-time defending AFC North champions.

“I can’t respond to people that’s saying crazy stuff,” Brown said. “I’ve got to do a more important job, to be focused on what’s important and what’s important now is for us to win.”

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — One of the NFL’s most formidable fronts is off to a slow start.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks in 2017, have four in two games — on pace for 32 this season. Players insist the issue is all about the schedule and not any “Sacksonville” shortcomings.

The Jaguars (2-0) have faced veteran quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady, both savvy enough to get rid of the football quickly and avoid the pressure that defines Jacksonville’s defense. The result: A relatively pedestrian nine quarterback hurries in eight quarters.

Jacksonville hopes to end the trend against AFC South rival Tennessee on Sunday. It’s hardly a given considering the Titans (1-1) have allowed a league-leading one sack. But they also could be without starting offensive tackles Taylor Lewan (concussion) and Jake Conklin (knee). Conklin missed the first two games while recovering from a knee injury sustained in the postseason.

Making matters worse for Tennessee, backup Dennis Kelly (illness) was hospitalized last weekend and could miss a second straight game.

“They do have a good O-line, but we’ll see this week,” Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said with a sly grin.

Jacksonville is clearly frustrated by its sack totals, but quick to point out that opponents are sliding protections, chipping defensive ends with backs and tight ends, and even sending out as few as two receivers.

“It’s kind of like, ‘OK, if you want to max protect, you’ve got five guys covering two guys,’” linebacker Myles Jack said. “Eventually, Sacksonville will return. I don’t think it’s at a standstill. I just think they’re getting so much respect right now. They’ll get their numbers.”

Jacksonville has become one of the favorites in the AFC following wins against the New York Giants and New England. A victory against the Titans would give them their first 3-0 start since 2004.

Tennessee has won four of the last five meetings, including a series sweep last season, and has more victories (27) against Jacksonville than any team in the franchise’s 24-year existence.

“It’s intense, both teams on the rise that started at the bottom of the league and now both teams have been fighting for something (in) recent years,” Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “It’s exciting. It’s exciting for football. The AFC South is becoming very competitive again, and we’re both glad to be on the winning side of the things.”